Future of Higher Education

I think that we need to change the way we are educating our future engineers. I talked about this a little bit in my final blog for Gedi but it is such an important issue that I would like to discuss it further here. We have had a lot of conversations both in this class and in Gedi about issues with the engineering education, specifically the fact that ethics is not addressed nearly enough. This is the main focus of my other blog post so I won’t go into much detail about it here. Instead I want to talk about the classroom environment that I have experienced in engineering courses. For the most part it consists of professors lecturing for the full class period and students frantically trying to copy everything down. While my experience in graduate school is a bit different, in undergrad it seemed like the tests were mad to be extremely difficult and the main goal each test was to just get above the class average because your grade would be curved at the end of the semester. To me this doesn’t make sense at all. If students are struggling to get 40 or 50 % on an exam then the tests are either too difficult or the students aren’t actually learning the materials they need to in order to be successful in the future. To me it would make more sense to have exams that can actually assess how well the students know the material rather than if they can preform better than others in their class (which is essentially what is happening when the tests grades have to be curved). I also feel like students would be able to learn and understand better if they were giving real world problems that they had to work through rather than the standard textbook problems that are generally used. If students could actually see how what they are learning in the classrooms could be used once they become professional engineers, I believe they will be much more eager to learn and actually retain the information they are learning. This is why I believe that problem based learning is essential in engineering courses. We talked a lot in both of my classes about how students come into engineering because they want to make a difference in the world but then then throughout their undergraduate career they slowly lose sight of why they are actually pursuing their degree because they aren’t actually shown how they can use their degrees, they are just thought a bunch of equations and concepts that then need to know in order to pass their classes. All of the classes that we are required to take can be so mentally draining that I can see why some people who were once really motivated decide to change their career paths. Luckily for me I decided to join outside organizations such as Engineers without Boarders so I did get to see how engineering can make an impact in the world, but I definitely was not getting that though the course that I was taking.

I think that if we can make classrooms a much more interactive environment and provide students with real world problems to solve it will greatly improve the education of future engineers.

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